Rating: ★★★½☆

This episode may be one of the most full of debauchery of the entire series. “The Target” opened with Oscar telling the camera he’s unsure if Angela actually realizes he and her husband are having an affair. I don’t know how there could be any ambiguity left in this situation after how the last episode ended, but before I could roll my eyes at the thought of the show prolonging this confrontation we see just before the opening credits begin rolling that Angela has indeed figured it out and clearly has some definite plans for revenge. Well, maybe not definite plans, but at least definite intentions. As much as I’ve previously mentioned that in the last few episodes regarding this plot, Oscar has really stolen the show, in “The Target” it was Dwight who really carried the story this time.

I was really curious to see Dwight’s referral to Angela after he informed her that if he isn’t in her panties then no vigilantes. Trevor turned out to be the exact type of weirdo you’d imagine Dwight would call for a surveillance job. I liked that it was Dwight, the most seemingly amoral character of the series, whom proved to be the voice of reason and morality in this story. When it was revealed that Angela actually wanted to hire Trevor to murder Oscar, something Trevor was apparently up for, Dwight was genuinely concerned with not only protecting Oscar from Angela (and Trevor), but protecting Angela from herself. Though a contracted homicide is a bit too ridiculous even for The Office, I was able to buy into it because as anyone who’s had their heart broken can testify, love can make you do extreme things you never thought yourself capable of, even hiring a stranger to kill one of your coworkers. In the end Dwight successfully thwarted the plans he helped set into motion and everyone’s kneecaps were saved. Angela and Oscar had the confrontation that the show has spent far too much time setting up and although I don’t think it was really worth it, the writers were able to pack a decent amount of solid laughs into this particular plot which could have easily been an overly dramatic sob story that couldn’t justify itself.

I think it’s interesting that the first subplot of “The Target” was actually a convergence of two characters’ arcs. At the beginning of the episode we see that Pam is about to start the mural in the warehouse she’s been commissioned to paint by Nelly after much priming and apparent procrastination. We also learn that Pete, whose new shaggy hair may be a bit too obvious for my taste as he is gradually being established as the new Jim, has been tasked with not only entering the latest collection of customer complaints into the computer system but also with rewriting them on a set of index cards (even though the information is not only already in the computer system, but also already on a ton of index cards the character uses to practice some architecture). These two characters have no obvious connection but eventually we watch as Pete’s new project of constructing an elaborate tower from the complaint cards serves as a catalyst for Pam to realize that everyone makes mistakes and therefore she shouldn’t feel so trepidatious about starting her mural.

I don’t think this plot worked that well because for the majority of it I didn’t see why the audience was supposed to care that Pam wasn’t noticed during the complaint festivities when she was supposed to be painting anyway. By the conclusion of the story we see that Pam was able to take a lot away from earning her first official complaint (and losing the company a client), but only at the very end. I would have much rather seen more of Pete winning over Erin, but I suppose the couple big smiles she made at Pete during his various moments of chivalry in defending Kevin (who’s once again too dumb even for The Office’s standards) and rallying the troops were enough. As Pete touched on at the beginning of the episode, Andy, the office manager, isn’t around to manage his office because he decided to spontaneously take a leave of absence to sail his family’s boat to the Bahamas before its sale is finalized. How nice for him andhis job security that he can do that. However, Andy also isn’t around to keep Erin from falling for Pete. Who knows if he’d be able to prevent that even if he were present, but I guess we’ll find out if he ever returns.

I know we suspend our disbelief when we watch silly sitcoms that aren’t meant to be incredibly realistic, but it bothers me that when Jim calls David Wallace to arrange for part-time status so he can be present in Philadelphia to help with his new company, Wallace is hesitant because he needs someone physically present in case of any emergencies – oh, you mean like Andy Bernard, the office manager?! No, no; I’m sure Wallace thinks Stanley and Phyllis are good enough. Anyway, watching Phyllis get absolutely plastered and begin to question who her hands belonged to was amusing enough in that we didn’t have to watch too much of it and in the end her and Stanley admit to knowing they would cover for Jim the whole time; they just wanted to grind his beans, peel his grapes, and shuck his peas. Too many weird euphemisms aside, when Jim hugged both of his drunkenly laughing colleagues I thought it was lovely.

Double Nostalgia. (Caption from Season 3 Episode 17, “Cocktails”)

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This article was first posted on December 2, 2012